U.S. Welcome Pavilion
For the last four years, U.S. Welcome Pavilion, a Utah-based nonprofit organization, has been putting together a large-scale program that will highlight all the United States has to offer during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.

SALT LAKE CITY — For 17 days in 2016, Rio de Janeiro will welcome the world’s athletes, dignitaries and tourists as it hosts the Summer Games.

The Olympics are a great platform for worldwide exposure, and a Utah company is working to promote the United States.

For the past four years, the Utah-based nonprofit organization U.S. Welcome Pavilion has been putting together a large-scale program that will highlight all the United States has to offer.

“It’s really based on economic development, trade opportunities, to build those for corporations, and also for tourism promotion of the United States,” said Maxine Turner, president of the U.S. Welcome Pavilion.

The idea for the U.S. Welcome Pavilion came from Turner’s experience with the Olympics. Her company, Cuisine Unlimited, has provided catering services and consulting since 1996. It was during those events that she noticed the U.S. was missing a big opportunity.

“It was really a result of our international experience and just observing that we were not there, that we weren’t part of the party, and we want to be part of that celebration,” Turner said.

The U.S. Welcome Pavilion will be a 40,000-square-foot, two-story temporary structure that will become a hub of activity during the games. It will become a gathering place for businesses and organizations, large and small, from all 50 states to entertain clients, encourage new trade opportunities and promote U.S. tourism.

The pavilion will be located on the grounds of the Jockey Club in Ipanema and will be close to key game venues and major transportation lines.

“We’re expecting between 10,000 and 15,000 people to be visiting the U.S. Welcome Pavilion every single day,” Turner said.

The organization is hoping to have corporations and sponsorships in place by next January. Prices for a spot in the pavilion range from $100,000 for a two-day stay to $5 million for top sponsorship.

The U.S. Welcome Pavilion would complement the USA House, which is operated by the United States Olympic Committee. The hospitality houses are primarily for athletes and invited guests only. The pavilion will be open to the public.

“We'll have these interactive activities that will be prepared by all of our sponsors,” Turner said. “It will be their products or services or anything they would like to showcase.”

To get the party started, specially designed information kits are now going out to U.S. governors, chambers of commerce, economic development offices and convention bureaus to inform them of the huge opportunities that await in Brazil and how they can be a part of it.

And it won't stop at the Summer Games. There are plans for doing this at future Olympics, as well as other large-scale events such the World Cup and World Expo.

Email: kmccord@deseretnews.com